iTunes Drops Digital Rights Management – Apple – as expected – has now joined other download sites such as Rhapsody and Amazon in offering all the songs in its iTunes store without DRM restrictions. At the same time they no longer offer all songs at the same price but now have tiered pricing. Without DRM, the iTunes tracks will be playable on any consumer electronics device, music-playing cellphone or networked music system that supports the AAC format, rather than the previous situation where only Apple’s iPods could play the tracks. Rhapsody and Verizon Wireless have also just converted to tiered pricing of their downloads, and Amazon has been offering DRM-free MP3s at multiple prices.
Warner Cable Drops Plan to Restrict Bandwidth – After hearing many complaints from customers about trials of a proposed bandwidth cap on customer’s Internet accounts, Time Warner Cable has dropped the idea. They wanted to test new tiered pricing starting at $15 with a 1GB cap and going up to $150 a month for unlimited bandwidth. Lawmakers criticized the plan and some talked about a bill to prohibit bandwidth caps set by ISPs. A Warner’s exec said they plan to release measurement tools to “help consumers understand how much bandwidth they consume…”
New Lossless Codec for HD Audio – Ireland-based APTX, a specialist in high-performance audio compression, announced this week it will serve the digital entertainment applications market with a new design of lossless audio codec named apt-X Lossless. The result of a concentrated R&D program, the codec is targeted for the fast-growing area of consumer multimedia applications. Apt-X offers up to 96 kHz sampling rates and sample resolution up to 24 bits. It features a scalable and dynamically adaptive coding mechanism, mastering-grade audio, low coding delay, low computational complexity and device power consumption. For links subject to stringent bandwidth constraints, apt-X Lossless can operate in a hybrid mode, dynamically using “near-lossless” coding to seamlessly mitigate against audio degradation. This is done only for short sections of audio where totally lossless coding cannot respect bandwidth constraints. Even with active near-lossless coding, hi-res audio is maintained – with frequencies of up to 20 kHz and a dynamic range of at least 120 dB. Applications for apt-X Lossless include : wireless audio peripherals for media players; digital wireless mics; music storage and archiving; audio consoles; digital audio routers; broadcast audio distribution between production, network and transmission sites. Apt-X Lossless will be available starting July 2009.